Oh Heavenly Day!

Another milestone. Today is my Grandmother’s birthday. She would be 98.

Last year Mom and I had lunch with her at “her table” #28, the four top in the corner where she could easily drive up and stay seated in her electric cart. We have been known to pretend to await the arrival of the 4th invited guest that seemed to be no show. She treasured her time with just Mom and me and she would go to whatever lengths to ensure she got it when she could. That darn guest was a no show again last year too, wouldn’t you know it?!

I asked Emmer last year what she wanted for her birthday. For as long as I can remember she would say there was nothing in the world she could think of. We usually came up with something unique. Sometimes she had to hide it in her room, but once she passed 90, I thought she earned whatever she wanted. Last year she wanted my homemade apple pie. So I got up that morning, made her pie from scratch and pulled it out of the oven just in time to head to The Pines for lunch. Emmer looked beautiful, as always. This was her day! I had chosen her clothes the day before and hung her jewelry around the blouse coat hanger as I always did when she was dressing for a special occasion. I remember her smiling, laughing and listening to stories of Mom’s latest travels and adventures and hearing about the kids going back to school. Oh how she loved that birthday apple pie that day. We were the very last people to leave the Dining Room and she took the leftover pie, hidden in a box tucked behind her cart.

Emmer thought she was old enough and she thought she had seen enough. When we talked about her birthday each year she would shake her head and say “Oh heavenly day! I’m how old? Don’t you think that is enough?” I would always shrug my shoulders and tell her it was just good genes. We would joke about needing a double room in the nursing unit that she could share with Mom at the rate she was going. (This always struck fear in Johnny as he has watched so many of Emmer’s traits come forth in Mom, and Mom’s traits in me. Ever thought you could see into your future? Yeah, that makes him laugh and cringe all at the same time!)

Well, let me just say to you Emmer, Oh Heavenly Day! You lived long…very long, you loved with your whole soul, you taught us to value each other and your spirit lives on in each of us. Happy Birthday Emmer! This is your heavenly day! Cheers to you Emmer!!

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© Gatewood Campbell, August 2013

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Changing Seasons

Here I sit, the last weekend of summer (before school starts). It marks the end of one season and the beginning of another. Part of me is beyond ready for some routine in our life, can I get an Amen from any other moms out there? Yet part of me remains anxious about the silence that will fall on my house at 7:30 on Monday morning and the demands that will arrive at 3pm Monday afternoon. 4th grade and 10th grade… more changes are coming, that’s for sure!

We have been incredibly blessed with an amazing summer. We had the chance to spend invaluable time with each other and relax in the places I love best. We started the summer with a Braves game on our way to a week of glorious weather at Rosemary Beach, FL. We came home just long enough to get the clothes clean and head to Montreat with my Mom and my brother’s family for a week. Ahhhh. Then home for long enough to get the clothes clean, ship Justin off to youth camp with church and then welcome our family from Germany for three weeks. Justin spent two weeks in Drivers Ed and in a couple of weeks will be ready to test for his permit. It’s been a busy summer but somehow restful.

And here we are. Justin spent this evening doing what he loves most; drumming in his room with his favorite tunes in his ears. Hunter is at church at a back to school lock-in and Johnny and I are watching the Braves battle the Cardinals. The kids are each finding their niche in life and watching them blossom makes a mama glow.

I’m still working to embrace the changes of 2013. It seems like forever and yet it seems like yesterday when this year began. I took a long break from running during the winter and spring. The road wasn’t calling my name as it had in the past. Thanks to some faithful, supportive and determined friends, I’m registered to run a half marathon in Savannah this fall. That is keeping me on a modified workout schedule at the gym and logging minimal mileage each week. It’s all good though. Savannah gives me a goal and something to keep me somewhat focused. If there is one thing I can count on, I will find my way to the finish line in Savannah, with my Mom (my faithful race cheerleader) waiting for me.

I’m learning to say “no” to the things that aren’t good for me and I’m finding people more receptive to my response. I’m learning to accept where I am, but I just haven’t figured out where I am going…yet. It will come, in time, I just have to be patient. Patience with myself, patience with medicine, patience with my future; it is all a frustrating process, but necessary for the payoff.

God is in the details. If there is one resounding theme I have seen this year, it is that God is in all the details. My children are finding their small niche in a big world, deer season is coming and Johnny is hopeful some large rubs will prove profitable and I’m trusting that if God has all that covered He has something waiting for me too. I am about to be 40. I am so far from where I once thought I would be at this stage in my life. I won’t lie, I am struggling with this but reminding myself daily that God’s plans are greater than mine.

Life will continue to bring changes, challenges and opportunities for victories. Seasons will continue to change and I will continue to age (some years better than others). My prayer is that with each changing season, with each challenge, I will recognize the opportunity to seize the victory.

I love Mandisa’s song “Overcomer”. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z29olPjFbqg&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dz29olPjFbqg . Looking back on a season invested in family, looking back on a season of accepting many changes and looking forward to an unknown season, I want to overcome.

© Gatewood Campbell, August 2013

Sometimes the Glass Really is Half Empty

I try, I really try to see every glass as half full, not half empty. A glass is round and when it is hit by something it bounces off in a completely different direction. It can’t be hit by the exact same thing in the exact same spot. So when I look at life as a glass half full, it is headed towards overflowing and by design it can not be penetrated. This keeps me moving forward, pressing on, determined not to be depleted or shattered.

But sometimes the water is full of air, full of bubbles that make it too cloudy to see through. Or the glass isn’t transparent so who would know if it really is half full or half empty? The glass can seem square shaped, making every pot shot bounce off and hit in the same spot repeatedly until it is broken. With a square glass holding cloudy water what do you do? If the glass isn’t transparent, you can’t press on enough to see through the glass, the battle is lost before it has begun.

Your normal is not my normal, or anyone else’s normal. Everyone has something unique that makes the definition of normal itself, unique. We each have something to conquer each day, something that has the ability and weight to sink us to depths that would drag a bobber to the bottom of the lake.

I have learned, well I am still learning, to live with epilepsy and a brain injury each day. I often wonder if it were just a brain injury, how would life be different? If it were just epilepsy, how would that be different? If my already injured brain weren’t dependent on medicine to limit seizures, what would be different? If I never had to go to Target that winter day in 2005, how would my life be different? Now, I know and I can list off in excess, the ways that my life has been enriched because of my circumstances. I will never ever deny the tremendous value of the experiences I have had or that my family has had due to my injuries. That walk in Target shaped my family into who we are today. There is much for which I am grateful and that enables me to see the glass half full.

Sometimes though, I just need to allow myself time to acknowledge there are consequences of my fall that just plain suck. I have yet to find a medicine, and I have certainly tried my fair share, that doesn’t have some side effect that over time becomes intolerable, either for me or for my family. I hate that I hate when the phone rings, because every nerve in my body flinches with fear because I’m about to be forced into a conversation that I did not initiate. I will be forced to try to decode my misfiring brain into words that may or may not communicate correctly. I will be asked questions that I need time to understand and to answer, yet the caller will expect quick responses, because that’s how a normal person responds. I hate that I cannot initiate a conversation of much merit because my brain is just a blank canvas without even a paintbrush. I enjoy watching my family laugh and scream on roller coasters, but I get tired of just walking from ride to ride and sitting at the end of the off ramp because I can’t ride with them. My family loves to watch a brilliant fireworks show, but I get bored holding my chin to my chest with my eyes closed. It’s frustrating to look in my closet and not understand how to put together a snazzy outfit that matches. (I’m so glad I have boys that aren’t dependent on female advice about fashion…I can not fathom the disastrous outfits that I would have put together for a girl.) It’s embarrassing to look at a teenage cashier and have to walk away leaving all my groceries on the conveyer belt because I’m confused by the sale price or the coupon or just the small talk they are genuinely trying to make with me. I feel horrible guilt when the boys’ teachers ask for volunteers and I don’t respond. I imagine them thinking “she doesn’t work, so she should have her hiney helping somewhere”. It’s embarrassing when I can’t understand the directions a 3rd grade teacher is giving for a game. It only gets worse when the kids try to explain and I still don’t understand. And my confidence hits rock bottom when the teacher tells the group of kids their leader has misguided them. When my son looks at his classmate and explains “she just doesn’t understand”, the fishing bobber has joined me at rock bottom. It’s humiliating to have to say no. I can not begin to put words to the demeaning feelings that overwhelm me when I have to say no to volunteering at my church. I, of all people know the need for volunteers and I should be first in line with a hand raised, but I can’t, I simply can’t. I know the need, but my role is as a seat filler now.

**Hold that thought….my phone alarm has just alerted me that it is time for a dose of medicine. If I hit snooze I may not remember to take my medicine later. I would like to continue with my train of thought, yet I am forced to stop….with a body dependent on a consistent dosing of medication that allows me to live my kind of normal. I can only hope to remember where I was in thought.**

Ok, I hope can resume regular programming now…

I share these things not because I am seeking sympathy. I don’t need sympathy because I know without a doubt that I have blessings that continually overflow. I share these things because sometimes I need to allow myself to vent and admit that there are some things that just suck. I have adapted. My entire family has adapted. That doesn’t mean that I have to like it all the time. My square glass has been leaking slowly for some time now. Maybe it finally shattered from relentless pot shots and the cloudy water has soaked my fingers and toes.

This season will pass and I will more fully accept and adapt to whatever circumstances come my way. The good news is that when a glass breaks, it is thrown away and replaced with a new one. We refill it with crystal clear water and the glass remains half full.

© Gatewood Campbell, August 2013